Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tony Hancock

Father Christmas brought me a lovely, tiny sketchbook, four inches square. I was watching a program about Tony Hancock on television last night, and it struck me what a wonderful sketchable face he had -- gentle and full of expression. I haven't yet perfected the art of either sketching from life, or sketching from memory (hi Doug), but as luck would have it, the Radio Times had published an old photo of him to advertise the program. So this has become the first sketch in my new sketchbook.

I hope to carry this book around with me much more than my old sketchbooks, and so hopefully I'll be able to sketch more when the mood takes me, without having to worry about being in the right place with the right materials. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas sketch

My first day off work, and I've managed to spend the afternoon sketching!

I got the idea for this piece about a week ago after seeing a picture hanging in the window of a gallery in Cambridge. The painting of the woman had simple lines and bold colours, and I wanted to see if I could achieve the same effect.

Eventually, I'd like to do this as an acrylic, but for now it's just a pencil sketch, with the outline drawn over in dark charcoal (which unfortunately smudged a little). The colours aren't quite right -- I'd like to get a more vivid mix of red, orange, and blue than I've achieved here --but they're along the right lines.

Since it's Christmas, and this will be my last post for at least a few days, let's call her Mary.

Have a happy Christmas! Posted by Picasa

Update: If you'd like to read an article about how I developed this picture further, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Last minute Christmas presents

Now this is a real treat. Go and have a look at Liz Plummer's blog, and in particular at this entry on how to make a concertina book. And if you're feeling crafty, and still need to get a few last minute Christmas presents, then look no further. As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to try this at home.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sketchbook of Russ Stutler

I have just, via Moleskinerie, come across the Sketchbook of Russ Stutler. I must say, this is a fantastic site for anyone with an interest in sketching, and Russ's sketches are full of life, colour, and lovely to behold. As well as beautiful sketches, his site also includes a lot of information on materials and tools, and gives a good insight into the way he works. Fascinating reading.

In addition to his sketchbook, Russ also has a number of comics available, and a sketching discussion page, which features some articles he's written, and a wealth of links to other sketching resources.

Highly recommended if you fancy losing yourself for a while.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sketches from my Moleskine

It's been a while since I posted anything from my Moleskine. In fact it's been a while since I posted anything at all; I've never been the most prolific sketcher in the world. So here's four in one post for you, all recent entries into my Moleskine.

First up, a pen sketch of my wine glass that I did quickly a couple of weeks ago as it sat on the coffee table. There were some interesting reflections in the glass, and I wondered how easy it would be to capture them quickly. Umm, it wasn't.

Anyway, as a little extra, there's also a bad joke for you to groan at (though you may have to click the picture to see the larger version in order to be able to read it). If anyone from the UK is in the middle of putting on a pantomime at the moment, you can have that one on me! (As I understand it, most people from outside the UK have yet to discover the joys of a good pantomime at Christmas ...)

You might notice the pointer from the joke back to another page. Yes, I have more of these! I tend to write them down as I hear them. They're never original -- pantomime jokes should never be original.

Next is a doodle which, strictly speaking, isn't a Moleskine doodle: I just stuck it into my Moleskine because I kind of liked the shading, and the way the shadows in the guy's face blended into the random bits of shading. As the note in the Moleskine says (if you can be bothered to read it), this was really the result of me scribbling to try and get my Pilot mini gel pen working again. I carry it around with my Hipster PDA (I hate that term) in my back pocket, and it tends to get full of fluff. Bonus points if you can identify the words that I've scribbled over ;-)

If you like sketches with beautiful shading, by the way, you should check out the sketches Mike Rohde has posted on his blog. He does this sort of thing so much better than me. Hey Mike, if you're reading this, it's a long time since you posted any sketches!

Now this strange looking thing is actually more true-to-life than you might first think. My wife (who, you might remember, is studying for an Applied Arts degree), made this fantastic wire sculpture a few days ago based on her hand. She can't make up her mind what to do with it, though I think she's currently thinking in terms of "skinning" it using the stuff you use to make plaster casts. Anyway, there's this fantastic bare wire hand sitting on the coffee table. I thought "hey, that's all one piece of wire, I could draw that with one continuous line", so I did. While I was doing this, I found myself thinking about the differences in the way my 2D sketch was composed, versus her far more complicated 3D "sketch". In particular, it mattered far less to me what order I drew each part, whereas for her sculpture it was absolutely crucial. And I could take shortcuts: the springy spirals around the base were just drawn over the top of the line representing the stand, for example, whereas she had to spend a lot of time curling wire round and round the base, creating the spring ... All a bit obvious, perhaps, but interesting to think about these sorts of differences.

And finally, a lesson on when to leave well alone. I was chatting to my girls a few evenings ago, and there was a ballpoint and some paper on the table in front of me, so I started to doodle while they told me about their day. It started off as a sketch of my youngest's hand, but, as usual, she never keeps still enough. The hand ended up looking cupped, and though I didn't particularly like it, it put me in mind of someone shouting. So that's what I ended up doodling -- a shouting man. I didn't like the hands, but I did quite like his comic-book face, and the mouth in particular. Yup, that's a keeper, so I'll stick it in the Moleskine.

And there I should have left it. But no, I decided it would be nice to repeat the exercise in the Moleskine itself, but in black ink this time. Like the doodle, I was looking for something quick and instinctive, but I ended up with something that was just rubbish. I started with the hand again (why?), and it didn't even look like a hand. Then I started on the face, and he just ended up looking scared. At this point, I gave up, annoyed with myself for not stopping with the original doodle.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Turner Prize

So Simon Starling has won this year's Turner Prize with Shedboatshed. Another installation that keeps the controversial flame of the Turner Prize burning brightly. Personally, I've never been much of a fan of the material that typically gets nominated for the Turner Prize, but that doesn't mean I have anything against the prize itself. Personally, though, I preferred Gill Carnegie's Red, which apparently is one in her series of "bum paintings", and certainly offers more in the way of erotic imagery than Shedboatshed does. Well, for me, at least.